Newport Folk Festival Part 3: Overall Thoughts

Overall, the Folk Festival was a ton of fun and definitely worth attending.  I do think the ticket prices were a bit steep.  Supposedly, at least according to the Boston Globe, there were only 8,000 people on Saturday and 7,500 on Sunday.  I find that hard to believe as there seemed to be a whole lot more people there than that (and I’m not including the boats).  Regardless of how many people were in attendance, the festival was a great time.  I got to see a lot of new artists and a lot of current favorites.  A lot of people were upset by the fact that it wasn’t folk music.  However, the vast majority of the performers were influenced, at least in part, by folk music.  Some were folkier than others, but most of them definitely had a noticeable connection to folk music.

There was a little shopping area with lots of vendor tents selling their wares.  I wish they had invited more local artists rather than people from other states.  This would have been a great opportunity to showcase some of RI’s own artists who sell their stuff at the Providence Open Market and other local events.  The event was mostly corporate-free, though the whole VIP thing kind of bugged me.  There’s nothing worse than a bunch of yuppies showing up in their nice clothes hanging out in a special section.  Or having a section roped off in front of the soundboard that remains mostly empty because the VIP’s don’t care about the performers on the stage (though it was full for Buffett, and only Buffett).  I understand the need to support the festival and selling super expensive VIP tickets is one way to do it (and avoid seriously corporatizing the event), it’s not cool to prevent the real fans from being able to have the good seats by roping off a special VIP section.  It was empty with the exception of about 2 people during the Black Crowes set.  It’s that kind of thing that pisses me off.  Music has become too corporatized, even the most revered events, such as the Newport Folk Festival.  I did get a laugh out of people ruining their $300 shoes (no exaggeration) in the mud trying to escape while the true music lovers were enjoying the music and having an all-around good time regardless of what the weather brought.

Other than that, it was a good time.  I would definitely go again so long as the lineup is just as good.  I have also decided that I don’t care if I ever see Jimmy Buffett again.  This was a great show because of the opportunity to do things differently and collaborate, but it was too similar to the show I saw last summer.  I can understand the people who go every year to have a great time, but it’s not worth the price of his tickets.  I was able to get a 2 day ticket for the festival for just $50 more than the ticket to the Buffett show at Gilette (though I didn’t get the cheap tickets for his show because I wanted to have some chance at seeing the stage).

My favorite performances of the weekend (in no particular order):

You should check them out if you haven’t already.

3 thoughts on “Newport Folk Festival Part 3: Overall Thoughts”

  1. My fourth festival. Went sat & sunday. I was in the back near the VIP section and the whole concept bothered me as well. If it makes you feel better scalpers coulnd’t sell leftover VIP tix on sunday in the lot- I guess not even the yuppies saw a good reason to buy them.

    The alcohol line to get into the alcohol area almost became an issue. Glad I wasn’t blocked by that mess all day.

    Music was decent, Brandi and Trey were definitely above average, Cowboy Junkies missed playing a few of my favs; sweet jane, anniversary song, common disaster.. hmmpf, but still I wanted to see them for 15 years and on some level made the weekend worth it. I feel though, that past years somehow had more acts and this year they dedicated the financial wad to the Crowes and Buffet.
    Richie Havens would probably have been more entertaining talking about woodstock than his interpetations offered.

    I’m sure alcohol sales was a much needed boost for lackluster attendance.

    A boat some 25 yards off, The Rambling Rose, was filled with A-holes and used a 3-man-slingshot to launch water-ballons into the crowd. Pics of the incident if you want. Didn’t check it yet to see if my camera caught the registration # yet. But this was towards the end of sunday and a patrol boat eventually pulled up to them to yell at them for 3 minutes.. doubt they were written up, especially considering they didn’t actually see it happen.

    First time seeing buffet and after bumping into parrot heads for 30 years it made me most interested in what he had to offer. All I can say is that in his current state he is now short on talent and long on politics, which usually runs hand in hand. At least he was last and one could walk out without missing anyone else.

    The festival can be an endurance test of melanin if one doesnt cover up properly. The clouds on sat definitely helped endure the second day. One year I had sunburn on the bottom of my feet and inside my ears LOL.
    But looking foward to next year.
    Also a old home brewer.. keep saying that i wil fire up the ‘Harmless Brewing Company’ again .. who knows..
    take care

  2. Kevin,

    Thanks for the comment. I saw Buffett once before and all his shows are essentially the same, even on his live albums. There’s no difference and no need to see him ever again. I really wish he had played acoustic to make it a special performance, but it was just a parrothead set with some gems (Come Monday, Changes in Latitudes, Pirate Looks at 40) and then his encore. He definitely wasn’t the highlight of the fest.

    I ran into people looking for extras on Saturday on our walk into the fest, but not on Sunday (though we were parked much closer on Sunday). During the storm, the people at the gate were just letting anyone in even though they were asking about buying tickets. That was probably because half the people left being afraid of the rain.

    Sunday was a test of my sunscreen. Luckily, I tan and I got a nice tan wearing SPF 15 (my wife got a slight one wearing SPF 30). We both re-applied just once during Levon’s set.

    I am definitely looking forward to next year. I believe it’s the 50th anniversary of the festival. I’m also surprised there were only about 8,000 people there. It seemed like a lot more.

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